Significant research in HCI and beyond has sought to understand end-user needs in formal and informal technology-mediated mental health support (TMMHS) systems. However, little work has been done to understand the experiences and needs of the individuals who power or support these systems, particularly in the Global South. We present a qualitative study of one of the most accessible forms of mental health care in India helplines. Through in-depth interviews conducted with 12 helpline volunteers, we research the human infrastructure responsible for the functioning of helplines. We foreground the often invisible labor involved in erecting and maintaining the institutional, interpersonal, and individual boundaries that are critical to realizing the goals of these helplines. Finally, we discuss the implications of our research for future work examining human infrastructures, particularly in mental health settings, and for the design of future TMMHS systems that deliver on-demand care to diverse, underserved, and stigmatized populations.
Helping others can have a positive effect on both the giver and the receiver. However, supporting someone with depression can be complicated and overwhelming. To address this, we proposed a Facebook-based social bot displaying depressive symptoms and disclosing vulnerable experiences that allows users to practice providing reactions online. We investigated how 55 college students interacted with the social bot for three weeks and how these support-giving experiences affected their mental health and stigma. By responding to the bot, the participants reframed their own negative experiences, reported reduced feelings of danger regarding an individual with depression and increased willingness to help the person, and presented favorable attitudes toward seeking treatment for depression. We discuss design opportunities for accessible social bots that could help users to keep practicing peer support interventions without fear of negative consequences.
Technologies play a key role in finding employment in today's job market. However, the majority of those who are unemployed, e.g., individuals who have limited education or who are racial and ethnic minorities, are not well supported by existing digital employment tools. Therefore, we conducted an 8-month randomized field experiment to evaluate two tools—Review-Me and Interview4—designed to address these job seekers' key employment needs. We used the Theory of Planned Behavior to examine the tools' effects on three factors influencing job seekers' job search intention: job search self-efficacy, subjective norms, and job search attitudes. Our interview data suggested that the tools positively affected all factors, but our survey results were mixed. Interview results suggest that these trends were caused by positive feedback and self-reflection. We contribute ways to integrate these two features into future tools for, and techniques to increase study retention among, underrepresented job seekers.
Meditative and contemplative practices are common among U.S. adults, but the impact of digital technology use on these practices and on associated transcendent experiences is poorly understood. Through semi-structured interviews with sixteen experienced practitioners from a variety of traditions, we find that practitioners consider digital technology to be a mixed blessing. While they see its practical value, they are wary of its stimulation-based effects and find minimal usefulness in commercial meditation apps. They also feel that digital technology use may interfere with possible transcendent experiences. The practitioners, however, applied insights from their respective practices to strategically mitigate digital technology's negative effects in three ways: limiting its use to instrumental purposes, using technology interactions as grist for self-reflection, and integrating technology itself into a site for practice. Specific design recommendations are discussed.
The demands of daily work offer few opportunities for workers to take stock of their own progress, big or small, which can lead to lower motivation, engagement, and higher risk of burnout. We present Highlight Matome, a personal online tool that encourages workers to quickly record and rank a single work highlight each day, helping them gain awareness of their own successes. We describe results from a field experiment investigating our tool's effectiveness for improving workers' engagement, perceptions, and affect. Thirty-three knowledge workers in Japan and the U.S. used Highlight Matome for six weeks. Our results show that using our tool for less than one minute each day significantly increased measures of work engagement, dedication, and positivity. A qualitative analysis of the highlights offers a window into participants' emotions and perceptions. We discuss implications for theories of inner work life and worker well-being.